Headphones are a personal thing. One person's amazing set of ear buds is another's torture device. So I'll give you a quick bit of information about my music background and needs list, then how these stack up.
I started working as a recording engineer and producer in the 80's and worked in studios for almost two decades. I value neutrality and balance in either headphones or speakers. I listen to all types of music, from jazz to rock, singer/songwriter to alternative, punk to funk. I've never found a set of ear buds I love, but really that's a function of what technology can do; I don't think it's possible to get some that sound consistently as good as, say AKG 240's or Sennheiser 580's (both big, old style, closed-ear design headphones).
That said, most people don't walk around with that kind of headphones on, and most portable devices can't drive them efficiently anyway. But then, life is about compromise, so most people choose one of two types of ear buds: the kind that sit in your ear like stock iPod headphones, or the type that seal in your ear canal, providing additional bass but also isolating you from external sounds (um, you might not want to jog at night, in the street, with that kind). The Altec Lansing UHP326's are in the latter category. So how do I like them?
The first thing that struck me was that it was really tough to see which was right and which was left. They are marked, but with a black l or r on black plastic. In the dark, or even dim light, that's not good. They really should have put a colored dot on one or the other. They do come with four different sets of plastic covers to fit various size ears; very important because getting a poor seal will give you really awful sound, with no bass or lower midrange.
But once I got them fitted, and in the correct ears, I was relatively happy. The sound at the bottom end is full and accurate (assuming a good, tight seal), though I found the upper mids a bit harsh. High end is clean.
They do have one problem that also affects the Zune premium headphones: rubbing the headphone cord against your shirt, or in your hands, transmits that rubbing noise to the headphones themselves - it can be intrusive at times, particularly if you are listening to quiet classical music and moving around a lot. However, this only happens when you make firm contact with the section of the cable between where the right/left cable split occurs and your ears. The cable from the split to the music device does NOT transmit noise - a definite plus over the Zune premiums.
At suggested list price (does anyone pay that, anywhere?), I wouldn't personally buy them. But at the 30 bucks amazon.com is currently charging for them, I think it'd be hard to find a better set of isolation-type headphones.
The Altec Lansing UHP326 headphones earned a bonus point with me before I ever plugged them in. Just about the entire packaging is recyclable, unlike so many other consumer electronics products. The headphones include the pretty-much standard set of different sized silicone ear tips, including a double-flanged set. I often have difficulty getting a good fit with any of this style of ear tip, and these were no exception, but I did manage to get the double-flanged set to work ok. You need to make … more
My background is in the arts; I designed and ran a television station in the 80's, was a record producer and independent engineer in the late 80's and early 90's, then formed one of the first online advertising … more
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